New Delhi, Nov 6 (IANSlife) On the month-long expedition in December, five “citizen scientists” will collect snow samples to study the extent to which micro plastics have made their way to the interior of Antarctica. By understanding the impact of plastic pollution generated elsewhere in the world, these volunteers will then deliver insights on how the global community can help protect both Antarctica and the planet.
Vivek Vashist, aged 28, is one of the participants who have been selected from over a hundred and forty thousand hopefuls. This former executive with Goldman Sachs now works in education with a focus on climate change. He is also the founder of an NGO focused on experiential education for children through real life problem solving. His goal is to take what he learns back to India and inspire young people.
“A youngster from Haryana I was moving and changing schools a lot in in the NCR region. Like most families, my parents wanted me to get into engineering and go to IIT. I realised in college that I needed to explore what I actually wanted to do and take a few decisions for myself. This is when I decided I wanted to work in the field of education.
“In 2014, I got selected for the Teach for India fellowship and started my journey. I taught a group of 35 children from low income group for two years. During my fellowship, I travelled to the tribal districts of Panna to set up a learning center for the tribal children. I owe everything to this,” states Vashisht.
He works towards bridging the education inequality gap, and feels, “I could see the difference in the level of education in urban and rural areas and how kids lagged behind. In tribal areas, the experience was very different; the way those kids are, how they work — they are fearless, creative, live in wilderness and are not scared. They are happier as there is less pressure, if they were to get the kind of exposure the urban children get, they can surely go places.”
Vashist spent two years in Goldman Sachs which helped him to understand how the corporates work in the education sector. “The social sector had vision, but no tools… no one was losing sleep if kids were not performing well. While the corporate sector has the tools and know how to implement larger projects. The idea was to learn this and bring it to the education sector. My goal is to deliver experiential education to children which is practical,” said Vashist.
Antarctic Scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams will spearhead the month-long expedition in December.
She is a Sustainability Development Director and is an influential voice in her workplace. An avid explorer of the Arctic, she brings years of polar experience to the task at hand. She said: “This is an incredible opportunity for the five volunteers who all bring their own experiences and perspectives to the project. Collaboration is a fundamental part of solving environmental problems and, through first-hand experience, I know that they will be inspired to share what they have learnt when they return home.
“I was overwhelmed with the level of interest and quality of applications, and I’m really excited for our message and expedition to be shared by our volunteers on this global platform with Airbnb and Ocean Conservancy.”
Vashist is hopeful and said: “Representing India at such an important event, I think it will change my perspectives on the fundamental level. We are the youngest and biggest population in the world and I think Indians need inspiring stories and people who can lead and inspire them.
“My aim is to reach out to school kids and promoting activities like plantation drives and teach them about climatic activities. India has a lot of human resources with less capital and unless we leverage our human force, it is a rocky road ahead. With the present condition of air and water pollution, we need to create awareness and a consciousness of the impact climate change can have.”